SUNDAY, 10/13/13

Jaxonpool _______

Dear_TristanGerrymander toward Bethlehem: The nation’s Founding Fathers designed the bicameral U.S. Congress so that the House of Representatives would more closely reflect the national popular will than the relatively staid Senate. It therefore is ironic that, in the 2012 elections, the party now dominating the House of Representatives lost the popular vote: House Democrats won majority of 2012 popular vote. According to Politifact.com of the Tampa Bay Times, “House Democrats out-earned their Republican counterparts by 1.17 million votes. Read another way, Democrats won 50.59 percent of the two-party vote. Still, they won just 46.21 percent of seats, leaving the Republicans with 234 seats and Democrats with 201. It was the second time in 70 years that a party won the majority of the vote but didn’t win a majority of the House seats, according to the analysis. The National Republican Congressional Committee did not dispute these findings.”

One can glimpse gerrymandering at work here in Florida by consulting the 2012 U.S. House election results. Republicans candidates won the popular vote, but through gerrymandering they squeezed out two extra seats.

2012 Florida Popular Vote for U.S. House–27 House Seats*1
Democratic candidates: 3,499,302, or 47.3% of the vote: earned 10 seats, or 37% of the seats
Republican candidates: 3,893,851, or 52.6% of the vote: earned 17 seats, or 63% of the seats



Critics correctly counter that, depending on the state and decade, both parties gerrymander. Every ten years—after each new census—whatever party dominates a statehouse draws the lines so as to create the reddest red or the bluest blue districts. After 2010, the Republicans were well situated to draw the lines that gave them the current majority in the House.

If both parties do it, why not put an end to this nefarious practice? I don’t want my party to gain the advantage based on how its leaders draw the lines, and I suspect most Republicans feel the same about their party. So, rather than have the party that won the most recent election undertake the decennial process of drawing districts, why not have a bipartisan commission or panel of retired judges do it? In California a Citizens Redistricting Commission now draws the lines for state government elections. The results have been far from perfect (there have been a lot of complaints), but most observers agree the new districts are more “purple” than “red” or “blue.” Wouldn’t ‘far from perfect’ be better than what we have now? If the party that loses the popular vote continues to dominate the “popular” Congressional chamber, will we not be—to borrow Yeats’ and Didion’s phrasing—slouching toward Bethlehem?

Dr. Tristan Voltaire, Ph.D.

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August’s List, by Farinelli. Not so easy listening. Music videos published in the last two weeks. Alternative rock, Americana, cosmic, dance-pop, dream pop, electropunk, experimental, folk, indie, lo-fi, noise, post punk, nu-gaze, psyche pop, shoegaze, synthpop, trip hop, etc. Watch & listen


crip2Smart Ass Cripple, by Mike Ervin. Expressing pain through sarcasm since 2010. Voted the World’s Biggest Smart Ass by J.D. Power and Associates. Read



The Field Negro, by Wain Bennett. Sometimes candid, sometimes tongue-in-cheek discussions about race. Read


brainBrain Pickings, by Maria Popova. A library of cross-disciplinary interestingness and combinatorial creativity. Read



ClioNursing Clio: Because the Personal is Historical. An open access, peer-reviewed, collaborative blog project that ties historical scholarship to present-day issues related to gender and medicine. Read


pannedPanned Review, by Jacob Lusk. Film reviews by a Jacksonville movie-reviewing fiend and English teacher. Read


calvinsstoryCalvin’s Story, by Christy Shake. Epilepsy & beyond: a mother’s journal. A mother’s journal of the anguish, grief, joy, and triumph shared with her chronically ill son. Christy and Calvin live in Maine. Read


MaggieWorldMaggie World, by Sally Coghlan McDonald. Normalizing the abnormal. A mother sharing her experiences raising my disabled daughter and navigating, advocating and dealing with the system. [Although Maggie passed away in 2014, her mother continues to write. She lives in San Francisco.] Read


OnTheBlink On the Blink, by Emily Michael. Considering how my light is spent. Blog posts, music reviews, and published articles from a blind writer, musician, and UNF English instructor. Read



Everyday Dolce, by Jamie Cornman. Finding the dolce in everyday stories of life, love, and food. Jamie graduated from UNF and now lives in southern California. Read


Make Jax Weird_______

pic copyFiction Fix 16. A Jacksonville publication. Jayshiro Tashiro, “Birds in the City” / Cathleen Calbert, “Man Loves Woman Loves Dog” / Amando Paulger, “In the Hands of God” / Van G. Garrett, “Piss and Vinegar” / Di Jayawickrema, “Kirkenes, Norway” / Josh Lamstein, “Cooties” / Meeah Williams, “The Taste of Strawberries Today” / Glenn Erick Miller, “Essence” / Edward Hagelstein, “The Peespot Players.” Read


pic2 copyEat Poems #9. Audio chapbooks–Poets in, around, and from Jax. Virus Conversations, by Michele Leavitt. Pub: Mark Ari. Leavett’s collection Back East won the Michael Macklin First Book Prize in 2013, & her memoir excerpt “No Trespassing” won The Ohio State University’s 2010 William Allen Award for creative nonfiction. Listen



Mudlark, edited by Dr. William Slaughter. An electronic journal of poetry and poetics. Dr. Slaughter is Professor Emeritus of UNF’s English department. Read


Free-speech zone_______

jaxleftThe Jaxleft Channel, from George Farrar. A progressive, public affairs channel for the people of Jacksonville, Florida. View


PF copyProgress Florida: Founded in 2008, Progress Florida is a nonprofit organization promoting progressive values through online organizing, media outreach, and networking with Florida’s leading progressive organizations. Read

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